Exploration and Settlement

Exploration and Settlement

Yurok did not experience non-Indian exploration until much later than other tribal groups in California and the United States. One of the first documented visits in the local area was by the Spanish in the 1500s. When Spanish explorers Don Bruno de Heceta and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Cuadra arrived in the early 1700s, they intruded upon the people of Chue-rey village. This visit resulted in Bodega laying claim by mounting a cross at Trinidad Head.


In the early 1800s, the first American ship visited the area of Trinidad and Big Lagoon. Initially, the Americans traded furs with the coastal people. However, for unknown reasons tensions grew and the American expedition was cut short. The expeditions increased over the next few years and resulted in a dramatic decrease of furs in the area.


By 1828, the area was gaining attention because of the reports back from the American expeditions, despite the news that the local terrain was rough. The most well-known trapping expedition of this era was led by Jedediah Smith. Smith guided a team of trappers through the local area, coming down through the Yurok village of Kep’-el, crossing over Bald Hills and eventually making their way to the villages of O men and O men hee-puer on the coast. Smith’s expedition, though brief, was influential to all other trappers and explorers.

The reports from Smith’s expedition resulted in more trappers exploring the area and eventually leading to an increase in non-Indian settlement.

Learn More About Our History 

Yurok Tribe

Klamath Office


190 Klamath Blvd., P.O. Box 1027,

Klamath, CA 95548

Phone: (707) 482 - 1350 

Fax: (707) 482 - 1377


Office Hours:

Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:00pm

 Yurok Tribe 2020

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